Volkswagen CEO expects software to be 90 percent of innovation in new cars


REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

❝ Volkswagen will ramp up its hiring of software experts to ensure that the car and truck maker stays at the forefront of innovation in an industry geared toward refining mechanical, rather than software components…

Demand for software functions has risen exponentially as customers increasingly expect advanced driver assistance systems, smartphone connectivity and self-driving functions.

❝ “Today our 20,000 developers are 90 percent hardware-oriented. That will change radically by 2030. Software will account for half of our development costs,” Herbert Diess said.

Compared to a smartphone, a car has ten times as many lines of software code, and a self-driving car will have a thousand times that amount, Diess explained.

The carmaker needs more software engineers to program the various sensors and actuators within a vehicle, so that a self-driving car can develop the right reflexes to navigate traffic situations and avoid accidents.

When you can offer several completely different-purposed vehicles from the same essential skateboard platform, making software and top-of-the-skateboard functions do the work…you can roll out new products a lot faster and more cheaply than existing tech. Once you get up to economies of scale. Simplified platforms made possible by electrification need a few hundred parts to roll out – instead of the thousands needed in internal combustion vehicles. Simple works.

Trump belief in failed economic analyses results in more failure


Click to enlarge

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the United States last year posted an $891.2 billion trade deficit in merchandise, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies.

The results were a sobering reminder that the laws of economics still apply to a president who had promised to supercharge economic growth while simultaneously shrinking the chronic U.S. trade deficit.

Those twin promises proved incompatible, as economists had predicted…

“Macroeconomics end up ruling. You can’t wish it away. You can’t tariff it away,” said William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The same supply-side foolishness Republicans seem to love were trotted out by Trump advisors like Navarro and Kudlow offering up the same economic bible that failed – most recently – Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. There are masochistic terms for fools who continue to repeat useless acts in hope of a different result. They describe politicians who really don’t give a damn about decent jobs, good wages, good education and good health for the working families of this nation..

Pentagon To Retire USS Truman – could save $30 Billion


USS Harry Truman

❝ Amidst rising anxiety over whether the US Navy’s thousand-foot-long flagships could evade Chinese missiles in a future war, the Pentagon has decided to cut the aircraft carrier fleet from 11 today to 10.

By retiring the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS Truman at least two decades early, rather than refueling its nuclear reactor core in 2024 as planned, the military would save tens of billions on overhaul and operations costs that it could invest in other priorities. But the proposal, part of the 2020-2024 budget plan due out mid-March, is sure to inspire outrage on Capitol Hill.

How many peace-loving Center-Left politicians from the two old parties have you ever seen embracing cuts to the dollar$ Congress pours down the so-called defense rathole?

❝ …The mid-life overhaul has been used as a bargaining chip for a larger budget in the past,” said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain turned analyst…he said, “I doubt the Congress would allow it to go through.”

RTFA for all the detailed alternatives. Think about what you might propose as alternate uses for that funding? Say, schools, teachers, retraining programs for workers in disappearing industries, Medicare-for-all? The list goes on.

Congress and pinhead economists in Washington DC still live-and-die by a now-ancient concept that has enthralled American capitalism since WW2. Production of non-consumable goods limits inflation while providing jobs, funding the most inefficient corporate welfare. Everything from the Federal Interstate Highway Construction to the Cold War always found boatloads of support for the concept.

MSCI to Quadruple Weight of Mainland China Stocks in their Indexes

❝ Index provider MSCI Inc. said it would quadruple the contribution of mainland Chinese companies’ to its benchmarks, a move that makes shares in Shanghai SHCOMP, +1.80% and Shenzhen 399106, +1.20% all but unignorable for many international investors…

The decision is likely to pull tens of billions of dollars into China. The world’s second-largest economy is also set to enter a world bond index in April and a rival global stock index in June.

❝ Trump and his Chump Army will crap their USA/USA-drawers when they comprehend this is the barest beginning of a couple of decades of qualitative growth. Not just measured in plain dollars and cents. In influence, leadership, on a global economic scale.

ADD: Bloomberg has even a better, more detailed note on this.

Trump’s trade war = record bankruptcies for farmers


TOMASSEREDA

❝ Hard times for farmers got tougher with President Donald Trump’s trade war. Now Midwestern farmers are filing the highest number of bankruptcies in a decade, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data.

And farmers aren’t hopeful about this year.

❝ Twice as many farmers in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin declared bankruptcy last year compared to 2008, according to statistics from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Journal reported. Bankruptcies in states from North Dakota to Arkansas leaped 96 percent, according to figures from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Farmers are being battered by sinking commodity prices — and stiff tariffs from China and Mexico in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on imports…

Farmers fear it will take years to rebuild those trading relationships.

Don’t worry, be happy, Trump is on your side. Stealing your wallet.

Say Goodbye to Thermal Coal


Click to enlargeEdward Burtynsky

❝ ,,,Just one year ago, in his 2018 State of the Union address, the president claimed that his administration “ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.”

If the war on coal is over, peace for coal is a curious-looking thing.

❝ 2018 was a particularly bleak year for the industry. Coal capacity retirements actually doubled in 2018 compared to 2017, and coal production was largely flat. Recent projections from the Energy Information Administration don’t show the conclusive end of the coal industry any time soon, but they do show that coal may have reached a point of no return, despite all the rollbacks of environmental regulations that the Trump administration has proposed or enacted…

❝ In President Trump’s State of the Union speech, this year, he didn’t mention coal once…

Metallurgical coal is still needed. Specific chemical requirements in legacy steel-making processes continue. Thermal coal? Natural gas is going to take care of that easy-peasy.

U.S. Navy Wants Killer Robot Ships

❝ Defense News reports that the U.S. navy is planning to unleash unmanned surface combatants — military robot warships, basically — to accompany other boats that are controlled by a human crew.

Last year’s naval National Defense Strategy — when it was announced at the beginning of 2018 — was focused on backing up existing aircraft carriers and bolstering peacekeeping efforts. The new focus differs: smaller surface combatants, many of which will be unmanned, and equipped with state-of-the-art sensors.

The idea is to overwhelm the enemy and make it difficult for them to track a large number of smaller ships. Having a larger number of autonomous ships will also make sensor data collection more reliable and accurate.

❝ One such autonomous warship has already made headlines in the past: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Sea Hunter is a submarine-hunting warship that can operate without humans on board for 60 to 90 days straight. Details are becoming more sparse about the Sea Hunter since the Navy recently classified any information about its future.

Might be nice if the Feds and our military didn’t just pour taxpayers dollar$ into the ocean like so much laundry detergent. Proof of concept, prototyping, pilot projects are accepted as useful in any industrial project that doesn’t involve someone in a uniform with lots of stars on his hat.

Someday, an American government will grow cojones big enough to tell the military industrial complex to go raise their own money. Have a bake sale or something. Leave taxpayer dollar$ for healthcare, education, the legitimate needs of the whole populace.